Note No. 5685

                                                            16 October 2001

 

Note to Correspondents

 

 

WORLD FOOD DAY OBSERVANCE ON 18 OCTOBER

 

 

World Food Day, which officially falls today (16 October), is to be marked by a one-hour ceremony at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Thursday,

18 October.

 

It will take place in Conference Room 2 from 12 noon to 1 p.m.  The theme of the event will be “Fight Hunger to Reduce Poverty.  Taking part will be United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan; the President of the General Assembly,

Han Seung-soo (Republic of Korea); the Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Jacques Diouf; and George McGovern, former United States Senator and United States Ambassador to FAO, who will deliver the keynote address.

 

Background

 

The need to advance poverty-reduction efforts by confronting the chronic hunger faced by 800 million people will be the focus of the observance.  The existence of such widespread hunger, according to Secretary-General Annan, is not only “ethically unacceptable”, it affects the stability and development of many parts of the world.  “The problems of hunger and poverty give rise to tensions among people, often leading to civil strife.  The eradication of hunger and poverty is thus fundamental for enduring peace and political stability, as well as the sustainable defence of their fundamental rights.”

 

At the World Food Summit in 1996, countries agreed that they would take the necessary steps to reduce the ranks of the “food insecure” to 400 million by 2015.  Yet five years later, the FAO reports that, at the current rate, that target will not be met.  According to FAO, the number of the world’s undernourished is falling by only 6 million people a year, far below the goal of 20 million.

 

Calling for action to “resolve this global embarrassment that stares us in the face”, General Assembly President Han called for increased collaboration among governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and community activists “to create a world where hunger and poverty will cease to preoccupy us and haunt us”.

 

“While hunger is a consequence of poverty, the opposite is also true”, according to FAO Director-General Diouf.  “Hunger causes poverty. Undernourishment not only debilitates people.  It weakens nations.  A nation of hungry individuals cannot grow and prosper.”

 

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                                                            16 October 2001

 

 

Mr. Diouf warned that the global community, while making a serious effort to focus on the world’s poor, “has so far failed to attach sufficient importance to fighting against hunger”.  He said the problem was not a lack of food.  “The world now has enough food to feed every man, woman and child on the globe.  If all the food produced in the world were shared equally among its inhabitants, every living person would have a daily intake of 2,760 calories, more than enough to lead a healthy and productive life.”  Instead, he said, the problem was access to food.  He urged greater investments in health care, education, communications and infrastructure in rural areas.

 

      Note:  For further information, please contact Michael Hage, FAO New York Liaison Office, (212) 963-0989; or Dan Shepard, Department of Public Information, (212) 963-7704, fax (212) 963-1186, e-mail shepard@un.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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